Hong Kong’s cuisine is one of the most unique and exotic in the world. It is a thing of beauty thanks to chefs and citizens who want to make creative foods that not only taste good, but use locally sourced ingredients and traditional preparations. Everything from drinks to complete meals are planned meticulously so that people get an experience.
Humble eateries are prevalent throughout Hong Kong, but you will also find fast food locations, stalls, and VIP restaurants. The food market reflects the social and economic changes that Hong Kong has worked through in the last few years, so you see more of those humble places growing into more fanciful restaurants but keeping the same menus.
Food in Hong Kong is always going to be a centrepiece of any vacation, and rightfully so.
Hong Kong Food History
Records have shown that rice was produced in Hong Kong as early as the 17th century. Until the mid-20th century, rice stayed the primary agricultural product. However, there have been many other developments within agriculture. Smaller farms now dot the area, growing livestock and vegetables. In particular, livestock farming has grown due to demand.
Fishing has remained a popular career and past time for Hong Kong, as many of its foods are based around fish. Most fishermen will work in the neighboring waters and along the shorelines of China. Oyster farming and fish ponds have become so popular that there is a threat of overfishing everywhere.
Now some 90% of the fish you eat here have been imported. The farms have been sold to make way for skyscrapers. Most of what you eat will be imported from somewhere else, though you sometimes find smaller rooftop gardens and fresh herbs in some restaurants.
Hong Kong Dishes Not to Miss
These are the dished to ensure you try before leaving Hong Kong:
Steamed Fresh Shrimp Dumpling: Light and filling at the same time, these dumplings have some of the best flavour you can find. Make sure to get them from a place that prepares them fresh – don’t go with frozen.
Egg Tart: While it might not seem like something you’d enjoy, this somewhat sweet and definitely rich food will have you coming back on a daily basis.
Curry Fish Ball: Dipped in curry sauce, a curry fish ball is one of the most iconic street foods in all of Hong Kong. You have to try this for lunch or for a snack.
Salted Egg with Steam Minced Meat: This is a meal normally not ordered by tourists, but it is definitely something to consider. The meat is seasoned perfectly and the egg on top is a great twist.
Kau Kee Beef Brisket: Tender and slow cooked beef brisket that has many different spices and herbs mixed in with noodles. For an added kick, add some curry sauce.
Roast Goose Drumstick: This is a heavy meal, especially paired with noodles or rice. The goose is cooked expertly and retains all of the flavors of the broth and herbs.
Shrimp Wanton Noodle: A slightly heavier version of steamed shrimp dumplings, this is a Wanton soup with delicious noodles and shrimp thrown in – once again, make sure everything is fresh.
Cheese Noodle with Pork Cheek: While this meal doesn’t always look the best on the plate, it is absolutely one of the richest and most heavenly foods you can find in Hong Kong.
The Best Restaurants in Hong Kong
Ah Shun’s Kitchen
G, 47 Tai San St., Cheung Chau
Ah Shub’s Kitchen is by far one of the best places to go for Hong Kong seafood. When you enter this restaurant, you will find that it is filled with locals, and that is a good thing. While it might seem like a hole in the wall type of place, it is really more than that. Don’t let appearances fool you!
If you like seafood or fish in particular, you can get a fantastic meal here. For those more adventurous, the clams in a spicy wine broth are delicious and the steamed prawns in soy sauce cannot be missed. Kids will love it here because it gets really messy – and what do kids love more than that?
Tim Ho Wan
G/F, 9-11 Fuk Wing Street, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon
If you are looking for a cheap dim sum meal and a Michelin restaurant that is more than happy to take your children, consider going to Tim Ho Wan. This is one of the most affordable Michelin star restaurants in Hong Kong, so it won’t break the bank either.
Chef Mak Kwai Pui is a bit of a local celebrity in the dim sum world, operating some of the best restaurants around. This is a casual space that delivers traditional style dim sum that includes pork buns, rice noodles, turnip cake and steamed egg cake. The only downside is that they don’t accept reservations, so if you ar looking to go during the busy times, you may have to wait for larger parties.
Meals are quick and the menu doesn’t have a lot to choose from for those who are too picky, but most people (and kids) will definitely find something that they will love.
Rainbow Seafood Restaurant
23-25 First St., Sok Kwu Wan, Lamma Island
Just the name of this one is enough to get children excited. Parents will be happier about the reviews and freshness of the food.
A larger restaurant with room for more than 1,000 people, Rainbow Seafood Restaurant is incredibly popular with tourists and locals alike. It is also extremely informal and has been since 1984.
Since freshness is key, it is located next to the largest fish farm in Hong Kong. This means that you can pick your meal, which will then be cooked to your liking.
For those who are looking for something fantastic, the fried crab with honey and pepper is a crowd pleaser. Any shrimp or fish meal will be done however you like, making it a great place to take children who just want a mild fish. Plus, you get a free shuttle boat from Central!
G/F-2/F, 15-19 Wellington Street
A place for relaxed comfort food, Tsui Wah is a casual dining place that welcomes families of any size. Compared to a “greasy spoon diner,” it has long hours and prepares the best foods around.
Open whenever you need it to be, it is the perfect option for late nights and early mornings. It features both Chinese and Western comfort foods, so if your children are craving pancakes or a hamburger, it will be easy to find. You can also find some great combination items, like fish ball noodles and beef curry mixed with jumbo hot dogs.
Just note that the later you get here at night, the drunker people tend to be.
77 Wellington Street
Noodles are pretty much are a child-proof food – most will love it. For those with gluten allergies or other sensitivities, even they will find comfort at Mak’s Noodles.
A home for both tourists and locals, this restaurant takes noodles to the next level. Try a shrimp wrapped into a ravioli pocket or chewy egg noodles in a salty broth. These aren’t mass-produced noodles, they are delicately made noodles that you won’t get anywhere else. Even better, you won’t encounter any MSG here, so you know that everything is safe.
For those who love kale (and who doesn’t?) the kale here is some of the best you will ever have.
While it might not look like too much from the outside, it is Anthony Bourdain’s favorite, which has to account for something.
Maxim’s Palace City Hall
Low Block, City Hall, Edinburgh Place
If you are in the mood for brunch, there is no better place than Maxim’s Palace, the best yum cha restaurant you can find in Hong Kong. “Yum cha” is a Hong Kong social term for Chinese afternoon tea. This includes a few smaller dim sum dishes that will blow your mind.
It has some pretty tacky décor, but you’ll have to look beyond that to get a truly great experience. You will see a lot of people running around and pushing carts that are filled to the absolute brim with steamed delicacies. Try everything you can because it is all great.
There will be a lot of people here, especially on Sundays and Saturdays. Try to sit as far away from the larger groups as you can because it will be really loud. The seating is cramped and the air will be filled with noise, but the food is worth it.
Shop 3007-3011, 3/F., International Finance Centre
If you go to Hong Kong, you absolutely have to try to get to Lei Garden. This is a more expensive option and it is filled with local celebrities, but it is also popular amongst common, every day people. It really depends on what you order to see what you get.
Many parents love bringing their children here because it offers plenty of healthy options amidst the fried foods nearby. You can enjoy healthy soups, seafood, and more contemporary dishes that you’ll love.
Once again, be prepared to wait for a while to get your food.
Din Tai Fung
Shop G3-11, G/F, 68 Yee Wo Street
One of the biggest and best restaurants in Hong Kong, Din Tai Fung prepares a fantastic dim sum that you can’t miss. This is a chain restaurant that has taken all of Asia by storm and is actually working its way to Australia and California. Still, there is something about their Taiwanese dim sum here that makes it better.
When you walk up to the restaurant, you are going to see a line. Do not let this intimidate you or make you walk away. The restaurant is absolutely massive so you won’t be waiting all that long. Use the time to look over the menu and really think about what you want to order. If you are stuck, you can’t go wrong with the Zhejiang-style sticky rice dumplings and the spicy Sichuan wontons. Once your number has been called, you will first notice that the food is better than any “fast food” you have experienced before. The service is fantastic and the meals are prepared with love.
49 See Cheung Street, Sai Kung
For those who don’t like their food to be completely overworked, simplicity reigns supreme at Loaf On, another Michelin starred restaurant.
The name might look like you are going into a bakery, but that isn’t the case here. This is actually one of the best seafood places you can try. All of the food is prepared in the Guandong style, which means that you won’t find tastes similar anywhere else.
This is an unassuming restaurant that doesn’t look like anything special, part of the reason why it might be a great place to go for people who have children.
Chef Sam ‘Tiger’ Chung’s cuisine, is the perfect mixture of flavors and natural taste that you will be shocked you haven’t found food like this before. The scallops are absolutely to die for and will havev you not wanting to go anywhere else.
Tung Po Seafood Restaurant
Java Road Cooked Food Centre, 2/F, 99 Java Road, North Point
Another seafood restaurant, Tung Po Seafood Restaurant is a place that you just can’t avoid. It is a street food vendor that has makeshift tablets that you will struggle to find a seat at, and with good reason. For families on the go, this is definitely a must go place.
It is located in a government building, but that doesn’t mean that it lacks options. There are over 100 varieties of shrimp, squid, scallops, clams, and crabs. Pair it with beer and the loud music that plays from the speakers, and you will have yourself a party.
For adults, going after 9pm can lead to some memorable sights.